Never before has there been such a wide array of foreign brews in Lithuania. With new brands entering the market every few months it’s becoming more and more pleasant for a beer drinker to live here, in this small and beautiful country. One could easily drink different beer every night and not get bored for… what a few months? Sure, that’s not a lot, but remember: baby steps. This cornucopia of foreign beer is thanks, in part, to Alaus gidas. They added some great brews to the market and for this we will forever be thankful.
A few months ago shelves here in Lithuania were hit by a wave straight from Hawaii. Okay, okay, not straight straight, the beer was imported to Europe first and then reached Lithuania. Nonetheless, we now have Hawaiian beer here, the only things missing are leis, great beaches, smoking volcanoes and more sun. To be more exact, these bottles were probably brewed and bottled in mainland USA, but the recipes and quality testing come straight from the headquarters of Kona Brewing Company, located in Kailua, on the Oahu island. It all started back in 1995 when the brewery, lead by a father and son duo, released their first beer. Ever since then the company keeps growing and now has several pubs in Hawaii as well as several more brewing locations in mainland USA. These were chosen in the quest for more sustainability and lesser carbon footprint. Actually, it seems that Kona Brewing Company is highly environmentally focused and tries to re-claim, re-purpose, re-cycle and re-use as much as possible. Considering the location it operates in — freakin’ Hawaii! — it all boils down to what’s most important for the brewery and what inspired their beer in the first place. And that is nature — the mountains, the ocean, the forests and everything inside and in between.
The importers brought four core Kona brews to Lithuania. We tasted them all and came to the conclusion that they sure do convey the spirit of a tropical island (we haven’t been to Hawaii, so we’re just guessing here based on stereotypes). They’re breezy, they’re light, they’re super easy-to-drink. Don’t get us wrong, they’re quality brews but if you’re expecting something heavier and philosophical, please turn to Scandinavia or our Baltic neighbours. However, if you’re in the mood for summery beer, let us tell you more about what Kona Brewing Company has to offer.
Longboard Island Lager, 4.6% ABV
Appearance: Semi-opaque honey-coloured body with a low fast-settling white head.
Aroma: Honey, wild flowers. Sweet, mild and pleasant.
Taste: It starts sweet and malty with some honey undertones and ends on distinctly (and pleasantly) bitter notes.
Mouthfeel: High carbonation. Crisp. Refreshing.
Notes: A light and simple beer, made more interesting by that nice hoppiness at the end.
Big Wave Golden Ale, 4.4% ABV
Appearance: Straw coloured body with a low white head.
Aroma: Subtle and refreshing mangoes and pineapples. Shame they disappear quite fast.
Taste: An echo of above mentioned mangoes, only more subtle here. Ends with a slight bitterness.
Mouthfeel: High carbonation, medium lasting taste, dry aftertaste.
Notes: This one, too, is a quality brew, light and refreshing, with an added fruity kick.
Fire Rock Pale Ale, 5.8% ABV
Appearance: Hazy copper-coloured body with an almost non-existing white head.
Aroma: Quite weak, with some caramel and herby notes.
Taste: Caramel and burnt sugar are balanced out by strong, yet pleasant bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, long lasting aftertaste. The beer is both soft and dry on the palate.
Notes: This one was a little bit trickier than the rest. It had great moments and is overall a well made beer, but we’d like the aroma to be more pronounced.
Castaway IPA, 6% ABV
Appearance: Semi-opaque copper-coloured body with a low white head.
Aroma: It’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s fruity and stimulating; on the other hand, there’s this strange and not very pleasant note of… well… a dishrag?
Taste: It has firm and pleasant bitterness that’s not too overpowering. Pine and citrusy notes make a great addition to the malty base.
Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, long lasting taste.
Notes: It’s a solid IPA. It won’t blow your lid off, but it’s worth a try. By the way, this was the hardest to find (at least here in Klaipėda). It it weren’t for this guy, this review would’ve gone up weeks ago.